Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Sudan on Saturday against the military’s takeover, as the generals tighten their grip on power despite outcries from the US and other Western governments.
Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in at least one location, activists said
The “million-person” marches, called by the pro-democracy movement, come two days after coup leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan reappointed himself head of the Sovereign Council, Sudan’s interim governing body.
Thursday’s move angered the pro-democracy alliance and frustrated the US and other countries that have urged the generals to reverse their coup.
The Sudanese military seized power Oct. 25, dissolving the transitional government and arresting dozens of officials and politicians. The coup has drawn international criticism and massive protests in the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.
The takeover upended the country’s fragile planned transition to democratic rule; more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government.
Saturday’s protests were called by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association and the so-called Resistance Committees. Both groups were primary forces behind a popular the uprising against al-Bashir in April 2019. Other political parties and movements joined the call.
Both groups have opposed the return to the power-sharing deal that established the deposed transitional government late in 2019. They demand the handover of the government to civilians to lead the transition to democracy.
Protesters rallied in the neighborhoods of the capital of Khartoum, waving Sudanese flag and photos of deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. They also chanted “civilian, civilian,” in reference to their main demand of handing over power to civilians.
Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, according to the resistance committees. There were also protests in other cities across the country. The demonstrations took place amid tight security across the capital.
Authorities hadclosed off bridges over the Nile River linking the capital’s neighborhoods. Troops and paramilitary forces also sealed off the area around the military’s headquarters, where thousands of protesters camped in April 2019, forcing the military to remove al-Bashir.
The UN envoy in Sudan, Volker Perthes, urged security forces to “exercise utmost restraint” during the planned protests and called for demonstrators to “maintain the principle of peaceful protest.”
Since the takeover, at least 14 anti-coup protesters have been killed due to excessive force used by the country’s security forces, according to Sudanese doctors and the United Nations.
Ongoing mediation efforts seek to find a way out of the crisis.
Perthes said he held “good discussions” Friday with representatives from the resistance committees in Khartoum, civil society activists and Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, who was a civilian member of the dissolved sovereign council. Nasredeen Abdulbari, justice minister of the deposed government, also took part.